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Harris’ Innovation: Keeping Floridians Safe

May 28, 2015 - 9:00pm

Education, innovation, infrastructure and quality of life are all key pillars making Florida’s business climate more competitive. 

Each is essential to growing private-sector jobs, Florida’s economy, and creating greater opportunities for families and small businesses.

A stronger, more competitive Florida encourages job creators to grow and reinvest in their communities. In my experience, one great example of a good corporate citizen reinvesting in communities across Florida is Melbourne-based Harris Corp. – a Central Florida technology company employing more than 6,500 Floridians.

Each year, Harris does $230 million worth of business with Florida suppliers and contributes $1 billion to our state economy. In the last three years, Harris has donated more than $4.5 million to community and education organizations -- raising more than $1 million each year for United Way and volunteering more than 300,000 hours.

And, while you and I go about our daily lives -- sending our children off to school, working, taking the dog for a walk, resting -- Harris’ top-of-the line communications system helps ensure we remain safe. Of the many fields for which Harris designs communication systems, the company is an important partner to Florida’s law enforcement community, providing radios and networks that ensure a lifeline for officers in the field.

While these products help protect us, they are also a contributing factor to Florida’s top-quality business climate. Why? Because businesses looking to grow and add jobs, as well as companies looking to move their company and their jobs into Florida, want to feel safe and know they can count on the protection of law enforcement, should the need arise.

Since 2000, Harris has provided technical communications services, like engineering expertise, to the State Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) – a network of communication and radios from Pensacola to Key West, as well as 7,000 state first-responders. In fact, Harris is slated to provide this technical expertise to run the SLERS system through 2021.

SLERS has been reliable through hurricanes and natural disasters, but as new technologies have emerged, law enforcement officers have said they require the newest in law enforcement communication systems. That’s where the Project 25 system, or P25, comes in. P25 is a digital network that provides increased interoperability between agencies, encrypted communications for responders and the most technologically advanced radios that allow officers to securely talk and provide each other help in dangerous situations.

Providing law enforcement tools they need now, instead of waiting until 2021, simply makes sense. Floridians want the comfort of knowing that law enforcement will have the tools they need to respond, and protect families and businesses. Waiting six years until a contract expires to upgrade law enforcement radio system technology could jeopardize both law enforcement officers in the line of duty as well as those they are protecting.

Ensuring Florida’s law enforcement community has the most innovative and up-to-date technology to protect Floridians is essential. With Harris and the P25 system, we can ensure this equipment is made in Florida – keeping Floridians employed, growing Florida’s economy and creating more opportunities for families and small businesses.

Mark Wilson is president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at mwilson@flchamber.com.

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